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BLAIR URGES LABOUR MPs TO BACK DOBSON FOR MAYOR

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Tony Blair yesterday urged London Labour MPs to campaign vigorously for Frank Dobson, the former health secretary, ...
Tony Blair yesterday urged London Labour MPs to campaign vigorously for Frank Dobson, the former health secretary, to be the party's choice for London mayor after Ken Livingstone was allowed on to the shortlist of candidates.

The Financial Times (p1) reports that Millbank officials hope Mr Livingstone will be heavily defeated in a contest with Mr Dobson and Glenda Jackson, the former transport minister, before an electoral college of MPs, MEPs, trade unions and party members.

But with union support for Mr Livingstone cancelling out Mr Dobson's support among MPs, 69,000 unpredictable party activists will have the last say.

Mr Blair said yesterday: 'I understand the attraction of Ken as a personality, but when he was in charge of the the London Labour Party in the 1980s we were a by-word for extremism, seen as anti-law and order and hopeless on business. We were completely unelectable. I don't want us going back to those days.'

The Times (p1) reports that Mr Dobson welcomed the selection panel's decision, saying: 'I have stated from the start that I wanted Ken Livingstone on the shortlist. I made it clear both in public and private that was the basis on which I would take part in the Labour election.'
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